If you’re a New Yorker you may think you know the city like the back of your hand, but there are some hidden areas still to be discovered. You just have to know where to look to discover these hidden gems. From historic residential groves and tiny roads that have been left behind by the requirements for vehicle traffic to alleyways that were only used for horses and carriages back in the day, below are 10 amazing hidden streets in NYC you can visit right now.
1. WASHINGTON MEWS (GREENWICH VILLAGE)
A private, gated (but often open) street just north of Washington Square Park, between Fifth Avenue and University Place, is a trip back in time to the day of row houses and stables. These mews (a row of stables) serviced horses from homes in the neighborhood during the 18th and 19th centuries and some were also were homes. Around 1950, NYU rented most of these buildings and converted them into faculty housing and offices.
2. DOYERS STREET (CHINATOWN)
Once known as the Bloody Angle, Doyers Street is a 200-foot-long curved street between Pell Street to Bowery that was once one of the deadliest streets. Sure, it’s full of restaurants like Nom Wah Tea Parlor, barbershops, and other stores now, but during the early 20th century, it was the site of numerous killings committed by the Tong Gangs. From hatchet killings to shootings, the street was infamous for its violent events. Its strange curve actually follows the route of an old stream and was also home to the first Chinese language theater in NYC. Now it’s a pedestrian-only street that attracts New Yorkers because of its great restaurants and bars.
3. GAY STREET (GREENWICH VILLAGE)
Another angled Street, Gay Street, was named after a family who lived there during colonial times, hence the Federal-style houses on the west side of the street. The stretch, between Christopher Street and Waverly Place, has been in a few different films and videos, including 1943’s A Night to Remember, and the music videos for Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun, and Sheryl Crow’s A Change Would Do You Good.
4. GROVE STREET (WEST VILLAGE)
Only spanning five blocks, Grove Street is lined with Federal-style buildings and leafy trees making for an almost European, old-world feel. Not only does it have one of the city’s oldest homes (17 Grove Street), it also has one of the most secret housing developments located between 10 and 12 Grove Street, called Grove Court. Behind a wrought iron gate are just six townhouses that were built in 1853 for the poor, but now they are a hot commodity.
5. SYLVAN TERRACE (WASHINGTON HEIGHTS)
This street was once the original carriage drive for the Morris-Jumel Mansion, but when the property was sold off in the 1800s, 20 wooden houses were eventually built here before the turn of the 20th century for working-class civil servants and laborers, according to Atlas Obscura. Luckily, since 1970, Sylvan Terrace was designated a city landmark and has been kept uniform as much as possible. One of these homes was recently listed on sale for $1.5 million. Apparently, Lin-Manuel Miranda said this is one of his favorite inspiration spots in NYC.
6. POMANDER WALK (UPPER WEST SIDE)
Another gated community, Pomander Walk can be found between 94th and 95th streets between Broadway and West End Avenue. You’ll know it by the rooster on an iron sign that hangs above its entrance. When you look through the gate, you might not believe your eyes. This small street with homes facing each other looks like something out of a Disney movie. That’s because Thomas Healy, who bought the property in 1920, was inspired by a rom-com play called Pomander Walk that was set in “a retired crescent of five very small, old-fashioned houses near Chiswick (London),” according to scoutingny.com. The homes were eventually divided into apartments and landmarked in 1982. One of the homes sold for about $2.5 million recently.
7. VERANDAH PLACE (COBBLE HILL)
Situated in Cobble Hill’s Historic District, this little street harkens back to its mid-1800s roots with townhouses and a park across the way. Unlike the name suggests, it was originally a mews for carriages and horses. It is just one block long and 20 feet wide, making for a unique pass-through for walkers. Like many of these hidden streets, Verandah Place also became a hotbed for criminal activity in the early 20th century (what street wasn’t?). According to untappedcities.com, the police at the time said it was the worst spot in the entire precinct. Years later in 1967, it was landmarked and preserved.
8. FREEMAN ALLEY (BOWERY)
This isn’t a street so much as it is a dead-end alleyway on Rivington Street between the Bowery and Chrystie Street. Yes, Freemans restaurant resides there, but at the turn of the 20th century, it was the site of a breadline from the Bowery Mission, according to ephemeralnewyork.com.
9. WARREN PLACE MEWS (COBBLE HILL)
Hidden between Warren and Baltic streets, this little alley-like residential property with townhouses and cottages will make you swear you’re not in New York City anymore. It’s not a mews like the other locations we described. This was actually built as a working-class housing development in 1879 by Alfred Tredway White. Now, 34 homes still exist here and sell for millions.
10. HUNTS LANE (BROOKLYN HEIGHTS)
This mews on a dead-end street is off Henry Street near Remsen and feel frozen in time, according to brownstoner.com. Its carriage houses from the turn of the 20th century go for millions now, but back in the day, horses lived here. A common theme for many of these secret streets.